RECAP: JD Martinez Homers as #RedSox Hold on to Take Series from Blue Jays.

With a ten game road trip coming to a close for the Red Sox today, a victory today would ensure both a series win in Toronto and a winning road trip as well.

Drew Pomeranz got the start for the Red Sox in this one, and he was matched up against Blue Jays righty Joe Biagini. It’s safe to say this matchup was not exactly a pitcher’s duel, because neither starter could make it through the fifth inning.  Despite what the numbers may say, Pomeranz struggled in his fifth start of the season today. Right from the get go, the lefty looked a bit out of sorts. That being said, the Blue Jays did not score their first run of the game until the fifth inning. Up until that point, despite not surrendering any runs, Pomeranz had just one clean inning over the first four. Walks were also an issue for the Tennessee native, as he allowed a season-high five free passes on Sunday.

Like I said though, despite all the baserunners Pomeranz had to deal with early on, he somehow did not give up any runs until his fifth and final frame of work. With some help from Mookie Betts, Pomeranz got out of a fourth inning jam in style. If that ball off the bat of Richard Urena dropped in front of Betts, it more than likely would have plated a run.

The Blue Jays rally was started by the top of their lineup, as three straight hits plated their first two runs of the game. With his pitch count up at 103 already, Pomeranz’s day would come to an end before he could even record an out in the fifth. Since he could not make it through five innings, Pomeranz did not factor into the decision later on. The final line for Pomeranz looks like this: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, and 6 K’s. After the performance he put on in the Bronx last week, the 29-year-old hurler did not have the same type of stuff going for him this time out. He’ll look to rebound in his next start against the Baltimore Orioles next weekend.

Anyway, with no outs in the bottom of the fifth and runners on first and second, Hector Velazquez would get the call first out of the Red Sox bullpen. Inheriting somewhat of a mess, Velazquez did a solid job holding the Blue Jays to just one run while also getting Kendrys Morales to ground into an inning ending double play. The righty also came back out for the sixth inning, and he tossed another scoreless frame to lower his ERA all the way down to 2.10.

After that, the Red Sox bullpen continued to hold the Blue Jays scoreless for the rest of the game. Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, and Joe Kelly combined for three scoreless frames to go along with three strikeouts to wrap this one up. For Hembree, a reassuring performance given the road trip he has had up to this point. And for Kelly, with Craig Kimbrel not available, a shut down ninth inning helped the Red Sox flamethrower notch his second save of the season today.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup had plenty of scoring opportunities against Joe Biagini and the Blue Jays bullpen today. JD Martinez got things started right away in the first, as he launched his 10th home run of the season 386 feet to right field.

Another vintage opposite field home run for Martinez. According to FanGraphs, 60% of the homers the Miami native has hit this year have gone over the wall in right field. That put the Red Sox up by two runs early, and they would have a golden opportunity to tack on some more two innings later.

With Joe Biagini on the mound, Jackie Bradley Jr. led the third off by drawing an eight pitch walk. A single from Mookie Betts moved Bradley up to third. After Andrew Benintendi flew out and JD Martinez reached first on a walk, the bases were loaded for Mitch Moreland. Despite not getting a hit, Moreland had himself  a great at bat against Biagini, as he drew an RBI walk on the tenth pitch of the AB. On the broadcast, they said that Moreland was at the plate for approximately six minutes, so it was a hard-earned RBI to say the least. Unfortunately, that’s all the scoring the Red Sox would do in the third since Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play in the next at bat.

Fast forward to the fifth, and JD Martinez added on to his great day at the plate with an RBI single to right field. His second hit of the game scored Mookie Betts from third and put the Red Sox up by four runs at the time.

Three innings later, Xander Bogaerts drove in his only run of the game on an RBI groundout. That scored Andrew Benintendi from third after he led the inning off with a walk. For the Red Sox, that run marked their fifth and final run of the day, which was nice, since it provided the bullpen with some insurance late in the game.

Some notes from this one:

After going hitless last night, JD Martinez got back on the board with two hits today. With another three RBI performance, Martinez now has 33 of them on the season, good for fifth in the American League.

Entering today 2 for his last 27 in May, Jackie Bradley Jr. got a hit in his fourth and final at bat today. Maybe now he will have the confidence to heat up for a bit, we’ll see.

With the 5-3 win on Sunday, the Red Sox are now 12-1 in series finales this season. As they head back to Boston, the Oakland Athletics will be first up on a seven game home stand. The two sides kick off a three game set tomorrow night, and it will be Sean Manaea on the mound for the A’s, who, in case you forgot, tossed a no-hitter the last time he saw the Red Sox in Oakland. Looking to keep his perfect season going, Rick Porcello will be taking the mound for the Red Sox. The Athletics are definitely one of the more interesting teams in the American League, so this week should be…interesting. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Monday.

 

 

 

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RECAP: Hanley Ramirez Homers for Third Time in Four Days as #RedSox Even Things up with Blue Jays.

Less than 24 hours after getting walked off by Luke Maile in extra innings, the Red Sox took the field for the middle game of this three-game weekend set in Toronto. Fortunately, this one was less of a nail biter than Friday’s night contest, and did not have to be decided in extras.

David Price made his first start for the Red Sox since the first game of the road trip they are currently on. Due to a bout with mild carpal tunnel syndrome in his left hand, Price was held out of his originally scheduled start this past Wednesday in New York. Three days later, he was back on the mound in Toronto for his eighth start of the season.

Contrary to how he looked before the carpal tunnel announcement, the Red Sox lefty put together a solid effort in his return to the mound on Saturday. In 5.1 innings pitched, Price held the Blue Jays to just two runs on five hits while walking three and tying a season high in strikeouts with six of them on the afternoon. The only real costly mistake the Tennessee native made came in the bottom of the sixth. With Justin Smoak at the plate to lead things off for the Jays, Price could not sneak a 93 MPH fastball by the Blue Jays first baseman, as he sent it 380 feet to left field for his teams second and final run of the day.

After that solo shot, Price would face one more batter in Kevin Pillar, who he got to pop out for the first out of the bottom half of the sixth inning. I don’t know if the fan running on the field had anything to do with it, but it looked like Price was prepared to at least finish the sixth. That did not happen though, as Alex Cora pulled him in favor of Carson Smith. The only inning in which the 32-year-old did not deal with baserunners was the second inning, when he struck out the side on 14 pitches. He ended his day with 93 pitches thrown, 55 of which went for strikes and his next start will more than likely come against the Baltimore Orioles sometime next week back at Fenway Park.

With Price’s day over and 11 outs still to get, Carson Smith would be the first man out of the Red Sox bullpen. Making his second appearance in the series. The righty did not need to do much, as he retired the only two batters he faced on 12 pitches, one of those including a strikeout. Slowly but surely, Smith has been looking better and better for the Red Sox. Since the calendar turned from April to May, the native of Texas has tossed six scoreless innings with no walks and eight strikeouts. His ERA has steadily decreased over the past few weeks, and it now stands at 3.38, the lowest its been since Opening Day.

After the conclusion of the sixth inning, the next three pitchers that came out of the Red Sox bullpen were nearly perfect. In three combined innings of work, Hector Velazquez, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel held the Blue Jays to zero runs on just two hits while striking out five. For Velazquez, today marked his first appearance in a game since the third for May. And for Kimbrel, today’s 1-2-3 ninth marked his 11th save of the season, that’s good for second in the American League.

On the other side of things, it took a little bit for the Red Sox lineup to get going against Jays starter Marco Estrada. For Estrada, he has not had a fun time facing the Red Sox as of late, and that sort of proved true on Saturday. After Christian Vazquez led the top of the third off with a fly out to left, three straight hits from the top of the lineup put three runs on the board.

A Mookie Betts double, followed by another double from Andrew Benintendi, plated the first run of the day for the Red Sox. Then Hanley Ramirez followed that up with a hit of his own, except his hit went out of the park.

That 89 MPH fastball from Estrada was sent 376 feet to left by the Red Sox first baseman for his sixth big fly of the season. Over the past four games, Ramirez has accounted for half of his season total with three homers in just 18 at bats.

Fast forward to the sixth, a one out double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts set up an ideal situation for Rafael Devers. After striking out in his first two at bats, Devers saw something he liked on the first pitch from Estrada and ripped a single to center field, allowing Bogaerts to score easily from second base. For Devers, it was his 24th RBI of the season.

Later on in the ninth, the Betts-Benintendi connection hooked up once again, as Benintendi pretty much put this one away with an RBI single that scored Betts from second after he had doubled in the prior at bat.

Some notes from this game:

In 11 games played this month, Mookie Betts has recorded more than one hit in five of them after his three hit performance on Friday.

Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez may both be heating up at the same time, as Benintendi currently has a five game hitting streak going on, while Ramirez has recorded a hit in six of the last seven games he has appeared in.

Speaking of hitting streaks, JD Martinez’s 12 game streak unfortunately came to end this afternoon, as he was held hitless for the first time since April 28th.

A three-day mental break clearly did Jackie Bradley Jr. no favors, as he was held hitless in four at bats today in his first start in center since May 8th. He is now 2 for his last 27.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox have the chance to end their long road trip with a series win tomorrow afternoon. Drew Pomeranz is on the mound for the visiting side, while it will be righty Joe Biagini getting the start for Toronto. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 PM ET, should be a good way to spend Mothers Day.

RECAP: Chris Sale Has Career Night, but #RedSox Still Find a Way to Lose to Blue Jays in Extras.

Flashback to April 24th, and you’ll find that the Red Sox were walked off in Toronto in extras in the first game of that series. Why do I bring that up? Well, the same thing essentially happened last night. That’s right, the Red Sox opened up a three game series north of the border on Friday night, and once again, they were walked off by the Blue Jays in extra innings. This one took an inning longer than the first one though, and it did not involve Craig Kimbrel and Curtis Granderson.

How we got there: Chris Sale made his eighth start of the season last night, and as he usually does at the Rogers Centre, pitched a gem. The lefty tossed nine full innings, scattered three runs on six hits, walked none, and tied his career high in strikeouts with 15 on the night. It did not appear as if things were going to go Sale’s way in the beginning of this game, as he gave up the first of those three runs before recording a single out in the first inning. The Red Sox ace was getting hit fairly hard, and after the Blue Jays tacked on another run in the second, pitching coach Dana Levangie went out and had a lengthy conversation with both Sale and Sandy Leon. They must have come to the conclusion that the Blue Jays were stealing signs, because they went with multiple signs for the rest of the night, and Sale looked like a different pitcher.

At one point, the Florida native retired 15 straight Blue Jays before surrendering the game-tying home run to catcher Luke Maile in the seventh inning. Following that blip, Sale pitched two more scoreless innings. In the ninth, it looked like the Blue Jays were about to get the go-ahead run to third on a hard hit ball by Kevin Pillar, but a great throw from Andrew Benintendi to Brock Holt and an almost perfect relay from Holt to Eduardo Nunez got Pillar out at third for the second out of the inning.

After getting the next batter, Kendrys Morales, to ground out to end the frame and send this one to extra innings, Sale’s night would come to an end. Although he tossed nine innings, the 29-year-old did not factor in the decision. He finished the night with a season high 116 pitches, 85 of which went for strikes.

In extras, the Red Sox bullpen was not at their best. Matt Barnes kicked the bottom half of the 10th off by walking the first two batters he faced to put runners on first and second with no outs. How he got out of it I don’t know but he got Josh Donaldson to strike out in a huge spot with two outs in the inning to send things to the eleventh.

An inning later, Carson Smith had the best performance of any Red Sox reliever, as he recorded the first two outs of the inning before giving up a single to Kevin Pillar. That hit would not come back to bite the Texas native though, since he struck out the very next batter he faced on six pitches.

Another inning later, and this game came to an end quickly with Brian Johnson on the mound for the Red Sox. The lefty walked the first batter he saw on four straight balls. Not ideal. The very next pitch he threw was taken 418 feet to right center field by Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile.

As they say in Toronto, the Maile man always delivers, and he sent the Blue Jays home with a series opening win last night. To put it simply, Chris Sale deserved better. Not just from the bullpen, but from the lineup too.

For Brian Johnson, I can’t imagine Friday night’s performance helps his chances of staying up with the Red Sox. In ten games as a reliever, Johnson owns an ERA of 9.00 in 13 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .321 off of the lefty, so it’s difficult to justify keeping someone with those kind of numbers on the active roster.

Anyway, on the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got the scoring started in the top of the first. Facing off against Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi got on base right away in this one to put runners on first and third with no outs. After Benintendi stole second with JD Martinez at the plate, the third member of the Red Sox outfield scored Betts from third and advanced Benintendi from third on an RBI ground out.

Fast forward to the fourth, with the Red Sox trailing by one run, and Xander Bogaerts led the inning off by tying things up once again.

That 426 foot shot to center marked Bogaerts’ fourth of the season. Four batters later, with Brock Holt at first, Sandy Leon drove in a run in one of the most bizarre fashions you’ll see.

Technically ruled a strikeout, Leon was unfortunately not credited with an RBI on that play. What’s even funnier about it is that it was the last run the Red Sox scored all night. At one point, they went more than seven innings without a single hit. I’ll give credit where credit is due when I say the Blue Jays bullpen was stellar in the seven combined innings they tossed last night. They held the Red Sox lineup to essentially nothing once Aaron Sanchez departed in the sixth.

Next up for the Red Sox is a David Price v. Marco Estrada matchup later this afternoon. After all the carpal tunnel drama this past week, it will be interesting to see how Price responds today. Alex Cora had said that if his hand starts bothering him again, they have a plan to get Price out of the game right away and go to the bullpen. First pitch of the middle game of this series is scheduled for 4:07 PM ET. Like I said, should be…interesting.

 

RECAP: JD Martinez Comes Through with Big Fifth Inning Home Run as #RedSox Take Series from Toronto.

A nine game road trip filled with plenty of ups and downs has finally come to an end. The Red Sox defeated the Blue Jays 5-4 in their series finale last night, and they finish the trip with a solid 6-3 record.

Chris Sale got the start in this one, and he was matched up against Blue Jays veteran right-hander Marco Estrada. As was the case in his last start in Oakland, I don’t think Sale was at the top of his game last night. The lefty tossed six innings, surrendering three runs on four hits, including two home runs, and two walks while recording a season-low four strikeouts on the night. All three runs the Jays scored off of Sale came across in the first three innings. After that, he settled down a bit and held Toronto to just one walk over the final three innings of his outing. We also got to see a pretty cool moment when it looked like Sale was going to be taken out of the game with two outs in the sixth, but he convinced Alex Cora to keep him in the game. He retired the very next batter, Randal Grichuk, on one pitch following the exchange. Finishing the night with 104 pitches, 71 of which went for strikes, Sale will look to pick up another win next time out against the Kansas City Royals back in Boston.

In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen had a bit of a challenge ahead of them. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that Joe Kelly’s six-game suspension for that incident with Tyler Austin would be upheld, so the team would be without the flamethrower for a little less than a week.

Anyway, Carson Smith would get the call for the start of the seventh inning, and he looked pretty shaky. In just two-thirds of an inning, the Jays managed to reach base twice off of Smith while scoring once. That made it a one run game, and that would be all for the right-hander out of Texas.

With two outs in the inning and the tying run on second base, Matt Barnes came through with a huge strikeout to retire the side and preserve the lead. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning as well, despite walking two, to pick up his fifth hold of the season and make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

For the second night in a row, Kimbrel was perfect. He needed just 16 pitches to end things in the inning and pick up his seventh save of the season, second best in the American League among closers.

On the other side of things, Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started for the Red Sox in the fourth inning. After Brock Holt doubled with one out to extend his hitting streak to nine games, an issue with his left hamstring led to him exiting the game. Tzu-Wei Lin replaced him and took over as the runner on second.

Two batters later, Benintendi drove Lin in from second on a double of his own, picking up his 14th RBI of the season.

It seemed as if the Red Sox could have gotten more off of Marco Estrada in the third, but Benintendi was picked off sliding back into second base, and that ended the inning.

In the fifth, Rafael Devers tacked on another run on a sacrifice fly that scored Mitch Moreland from third and cut the Blue Jays lead to one run.

Fast forward another inning, and JD Martinez put the exclamation point on this one by taking Estrada deep to left field for a three-run blast.

That ball was hit 365 feet at 102 MPH off the bat, and it put the Red Sox up by two runs, ultimately sealing the win in the end. Those three RBIs now put Martinez at 18 for the season, which is best for seventh in the American League.

With the road trip over and done with, the Red Sox will now be at home for their next six ballgames, those coming against the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals. Xander Bogaerts should be back this weekend after spending a few weeks on the disabled list, which could not come at a better time if Holt’s injury is serious.

Drew Pomeranz will get the series with the Rays kicked off later tonight, as he makes his first Fenway start of the season. First pitch is at 7:10 PM, hopefully the rain will lighten up before then.

 

 

RECAP: Mookie Betts and Brock Holt Drive in All Four Runs for #RedSox as Losing Streak Comes to an End.

Finally, the three game losing streak is behind us. That’s right, the Red Sox won a baseball game last night, and although they did not do it in convincing fashion, it was a solid victory regardless.

Making his fourth start of the season, Eduardo Rodriguez put together a solid performance on the mound in Toronto. In 6 2/3 innings pitched, the lefty surrendered three runs on six hits and a walk, striking out three along the way.

Rodriguez ran into some trouble here and there throughout his start, but he limited the damage. The biggest mistake he made last night came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Jays third baseman Yangervis Solarte mashed a leadoff home run on the first pitch he saw. That put the Blue Jays up 3-2 at the time, but the Red Sox responded with two runs of their own an inning later, which ultimately led to the native of Venezuela picking up his third win of the season. By the time he got the hook with two outs in the seventh, Rodriguez was at 106 pitches, 66 of which went for strikes. He’ll be looking for his fourth next week against the Kansas City Royals.

In relief of ERod, Heath Hembree came on to finish things in the seventh and he struck out the only batter he faced. Joe Kelly tossed a scoreless eighth after that, and Craig Kimbrel rebounded from Tuesday night by picking up his sixth save of the season in a perfect inning of work. I think it’s safe to say the Red Sox bullpen is solid.

Offensively, Mookie Betts got the scoring started in the top of the first. On the third pitch of the game from Aaron Sanchez, Betts belted his seventh long ball of the year 402 feet over the wall in right field.

That leadoff home run from Betts marks his third of the season already and the 14th of his career. No other player in the history of the Red Sox has had more than 10. Betts would get in some more action later, but not before Brock Holt got involved in the fifth inning.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian  Vazquez led the inning off with a pair of walks, Holt extended his hitting streak up to eight games with an RBI double to center field.

Off the bat, it looked like that ball could have been caught, but a slip up from left fielder Steve Pearce while he was pursuing the fly ball prevented that from happening. With Jackie Bradley Jr. scoring on the play, the Red Sox went up by a run for a half inning.

Since his eight game hitting streak began on April 14th, Holt is slashing .455/.455/.697 with one home run and six RBIs to go along with two straight three hit games. It’s been great to see Holt playing this way recently, especially with Xander Bogaerts still on the disabled list. If he keeps playing like this, I’ll be interested to see how Alex Cora works him into the lineup after Bogaerts returns this weekend.

Anyway, to put an exclamation point on this one, Mookie Betts delivered the biggest hit of the night in the seventh inning. Trailing by one with one out in the inning and a runner at first, Betts went yard for the second time, this time against Danny Barnes. (fast forward to :30 if you don’t want to see the first one again)

That 366 foot shot was Betts’ eighth of the season, and it put the Red Sox up 4-3, all but guaranteeing the team their 18th win in 23 games. Betts also owns an OPS of 1.192 after last night’s spectacle, best among American League outfielders.

After splitting the first two games of the series, it will be Chris Sale looking to go home with the series win later tonight. In the three starts he made at Rogers Centre last season, the lefty averaged 1.6 K’s per inning while maintaining an ERA of 0.00 in 22 innings pitched. He’ll be matched up against Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 PM ET.

RECAP: #RedSox Drop Third Straight as Curtis Granderson Launches a Walk off Home Run for Blue Jays in Series Opener.

I must say, the Red Sox have spoiled us to begin this season. In 22 games, they’ve already had two winning streaks of at least eight games, and have been one of the best all around teams in baseball in terms of run production and pitching. That’s all nice, but things have kind of halted since that no-hitter on Saturday night. Since the start of that game, the pitching has still ben great for the most part, but the Red Sox have scored a grand total of four runs in three games, and three of those runs were scored in Toronto last night.

Speaking of Toronto, the Red Sox kicked off the last third of their road trip up north last night. Rick Porcello, looking for his fifth win of the season, was on the mound for Boston while it was lefty JA Happ making the start for the Blue Jays.

Porcello looked great once again, as he surrendered three runs over seven innings, allowing three hits, three walks, and striking out a season high of nine along the way. The walks were a bit unusual, since before last night he had given up a total of one all season, but I really have nothing else to complain about from Porcello’s start. Those three runs the Jays scored in the second weren’t all on him, that was a pretty weird inning. I mean, Rafael Devers could have made a better throw, that could have limited what the Blue Jays did. At the end of the day though, I’ll take seven quality innings from Porcello anytime I can get them. He finished his night at 103 pitches, 65 of which went for strikes. And since he got hit with the no decision, he’ll look for that fifth win of the season once again this weekend, back home against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In relief of Porcello, Joe Kelly was first up and he too had a quality outing. In two innings pitched, the righty allowed one hit and struck out one batter as he held the Blue Jays scoreless in a crucial situation, since they had the chance to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, a walk off was apparently inevitable because Curtis Granderson put a stamp on this contest an inning later.

No doubt that this is a bad look for Craig Kimbrel. An elite closer like himself should be able to keep thing tied going into the eleventh. But, that was the first time in nearly a week the Red Sox flamethrower had seen any in-game action. Regardless, he got hit with his first loss of the season.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup never stood much of a chance against JA Happ last night. The veteran starter held the Red Sox to just one run on four hits, while striking out 10, in the seven innings he pitched.

That one run was important though, as it cut into the Blue Jays lead in the top of the sixth.

Hanley Ramirez collected his 16th RBI of the season, and the Red Sox were now down by only two runs.

Fast forward to the ninth, and it looked like the Red Sox were done for with Roberto Osuna on the mound. The young Jays closer had been perfect in save opportunities before last night, but the bottom of the order rallied.

After Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers both singled with one out in the inning, Eduardo Nunez picked up his seventh RBI of the year by ripping a single to right field that scored Ramirez from second and moved Devers up to third. One strikeout and one lucky walk from Christian Vazquez later, and Brock Holt came through with the clutchest hit of the night for the Red Sox.

On the second pitch of the at bat, Holt took a 97 MPH fastball from Osuna and laced it into left field. That allowed Devers to score from third and should have kept the inning going with Mookie Betts due up next. Instead, Eduardo Nunez was tagged out trying to score from second on what was one of the most aggressive sends from third base coach Carlos Febles that I have seen.

That disaster of a play ended the top half of the ninth, and the rally the Red Sox had going as well. With one last chance in the tenth, Tyler Clippard walked one while also facing the minimum as he got Hanley Ramirez to ground into a game-ending double play.

That makes three straight losses for the Red Sox now. No need to panic yet, it’s still way too early for that. Eduardo Rodriguez will look to end this little skid, as he faces off against Jays righty Aaron Sanchez later tonight. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.

Full 2018 #RedSox Season Preview: Expectations and Predictions

It’s the day before the start of the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season. For the first time I can remember, all 30 clubs (except the Reds and Nationals) will be playing on Opening Day to start the season. The Boston Red Sox kick their season off in Tampa Bay to square off against the new-look Rays at 4:00 PM on Thursday.

This campaign looks to be a promising one for the Red Sox, and expectations are high as ever with the team owning the highest payroll in baseball at more than $234 million. With that in mind, losing in the ALDS this season really isn’t an option, no matter how many games they win in the regular season. I mean, John Farrell won 93 games each in the past two seasons, that clearly doesn’t guarantee anything. Now, with new manager Alex Cora at the helm, things are looking more optimistic. Although this will be Cora’s first go around managing a big league club, the native of Puerto Rico has three things going for him. One, he was the bench coach for the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros. Two, he has managerial experience in winter ball. And three, he spent more than three seasons with the Red Sox as a player from 2005-2008. The Red Sox needed a change from John Farrell and Alex Cora was the best managerial candidate available, so that’s a positive start.

Lest we forget that Cora is inheriting a team that has won the AL East two years in a row now. A team that won 93 games in 2017, yet it felt like they underachieved throughout the season. If he can rejuvenate this team the way I think he can, we may be looking at 95+ wins this year. I’ll get to that later, for now, let’s move on to the pitching.

The Rotation:

The rotation is going to look a bit different to start the year, as Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are slated to miss time on the disabled list. When fully healthy though, a rotation of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez can compete with any team for one of the best rotations in baseball.

Sale is coming off a year where he struck out 300+ batters and finished second in AL Cy Young Voting. Both of those results sound good, but if you watched Sale at all last season, you know he left something to be desired at the tail end of 2017. His starts may be less entertaining, but if the lefty can leave more in the tank for September and October, the starts that really matter, it would all be worth it.

As for David Price, health is key. He missed a good portion of the 2017 season, thus explaining why he only appeared in 16 games. Off the field issues were affluent as well for Price. The Dennis Eckersley “Yuck” confrontation was ugly, and that didn’t help Price in terms of what fans think of him. In my opinion, what would be best for Price would be to put your head down, avoid the distractions, and pitch your ass off. The only way he can get fans on his side now is by performing, especially in the postseason. And if he does all that, he has the option to get out of his current contract at the end of the season. It’s hard to imagine a free agent entering his age 33 season could make more than $31 million per season, but we’ll have to wait and see how this season plays out for him first.

Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez all have two things in common; Upside and inconsistency. Porcello followed up his 2016 Cy Young Award winning campaign by putting together a stinker of a season. If you look at Porcello’s WHIP each year he’s been with the Red Sox, you’ll notice that it starts at 1.36, goes down to 1.01 the season he won Cy Young, then inflates back up to 1.4 last season. Does that mean the 29-year-old New Jersey native is due for another Cy Young caliber season? I doubt it. With Sale and Price on the staff, Porcello does not need to shoulder that kind of work load. He needs to be a solid No. 3 starter. That’s it.

This thing is going to be longer than I expected. Okay, next up we got Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez. Both have had health and consistency issues in the past and both will miss the start of the season. Surprisingly, Pomeranz exceeded expectations last year and had stretches where he looked like a top ten pitcher in the American League. He may not go deep into too many of his starts, but if he can give this team five to six innings of quality stuff on a consistent enough basis, he will be a valuable part of the rotation. As for Rodriguez, there’s not as much pressure on him as there he used to be. The combination of missing time and acquiring guys like David Price and Chris Sale have made more Rodriguez more expandable. He’s no longer a vital lefty, the Red Sox have three of those that are all arguably better than he is. I don’t mean to put ERod down, because when he’s on he is on, but I just don’t want to set my expectations too high. I would be happy if he were able to make 20-25 starts this year.

The Bullpen:

For the sake of this blog, I’m going to include Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez in this section because that’s where I think they will be spending their time once Pomeranz and Rodriguez return from the disabled list.

The Red Sox bullpen was one of the best in the majors last year, can’t take that away from them. They finished with the second best bullpen ERA in the league, trailing only the Cleveland Indians. Craig Kimbrel is coming off one of the best seasons a Red Sox closer has ever had. Carson Smith is here for his first full season with the Red Sox since he was acquired two offseasons ago. Tyler Thornburg is alive, I think. Two of the biggest surprises of Red Sox spring training have to be Marcus Walden and Bobby Poyner making the Opening Day roster. I honestly don’t know much about them other than they performed well this month to earn those spots. All and all, I expect this unit to be just as good as they were last season. They might not be as good as the Indians bullpen, but maintaining the success they found last year would be more than enough.

The Lineup:

With the Opening Day lineup officially looking like this…

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  3. Hanley Ramirez, 1B
  4. JD Martinez, DH
  5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  6. Rafael Devers, 3B
  7. Eduardo Nunez, 2B
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  9. Christian Vazquez, C

…It’s hard not to get excited for what this season could bring. The addition of JD Martinez gives the Red Sox the power threat they so very much missed last season. The success this lineup has mostly depends on if some players can bounce back from their 2017 seasons. Mookie Betts was the only everyday player to post an OPS higher than .800. Compare that to the 2016 the Red Sox lineup had and it just doesn’t make sense. If losing David Ortiz affected the team that much hopefully Martinez will revitalize them.

The top five here have a ton of potential. Betts, Benintendi, Ramirez, Martinez, and Devers. We could easily be looking at 20+ home runs for each of these guys. That may be what this lineup needs most of all, some power. Last season, the Red Sox ranked 27th in team home runs. I am hoping that the addition of Martinez as well new philosophies while at the plate will lead to a surge in those power numbers in 2018.

The Depth:

Depending on what your view is, you could make the case that the Red Sox have an above average bench and minor league depth at some positions. To start the season, it’s looking like Mitch Moreland, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, and Brock Holt will be coming off the bench. In Pawtucket, Tzu-Wei Lin and Sam Travis have already shown what they can do with a small sample size in the big leagues. Credit to Travis for putting together yet another solid spring training, but it’s going to be a challenge to find him any at bats with the big league club. Lin is more of an interesting case. He made the jump from Double A Portland to Boston without much notice. In his 25 games with the Red Sox, he hit .268 while playing three positions.

In terms of pitchers in the minor leagues, there really is nothing to boast about, at least not yet. Brandon Workman, Robby Scott, and maybe Roenis Elias are the only pitchers who have the most realistic chance to pitch with the Red Sox this season, and that’s mostly because all three have before. As for the others, Jalen Beeks was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year over the winter, and he looks to be the ace of the pitching staff in Pawtucket right now. He posted a 5.06 ERA in two starts this spring, so he may need more time to develop with the PawSox before getting a chance to start a Major League game.

Two of the biggest names to watch in the Red Sox farm system are both pitchers and both will not pitch for the Red Sox this season. Those two would be none other than Jason Groome and Tanner Houck, the last two first round selections the Red Sox have made in the last two amateur drafts. Groome’s short professional career has already been riddled with injuries, but spent his offseason training with Chris Sale. Houck spent all of the 2017 season with the Lowell Spinners, where he appeared in ten games as a starter and posted a solid 3.63 ERA and .239 BAA. They may not have been on the bubble for a roster spot this season, but I expect next spring to be very different.

The Injured:

Marco Hernandez, Dustin Pedroia, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tyler Thornburg, and Steven Wright. Those are all the players who will begin the season on the disabled list. For Pedroia, this will be the veteran’s first missed Opening Day since 2007, when he wasn’t on the team yet. As long as Pedroia is with the team, I’m fine. He will be traveling with the team for the start of the season, and should be making his return sometime in May, barring any setbacks.

Going into the season missing three pitchers who started for the team last year is certainly unsettling. Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello will have to carry a heavier burden on their shoulders for the time being. When everyone gets back though, I would expect Steven Wright to be the one sent to the bullpen.

My Predictions:

Here are my predictions for this year’s Red Sox team:

Record: 95-67 (1st in AL East)

Team leader in Home Runs: JD Martinez (38)

Team leader in RBIs: JD Martinez (112)

Team leader in Hits: Mookie Betts (189)

Team leader in Wins: Chris Sale (17)

Team leader in Strikeouts: Chris Sale (245)

Craig Kimbrel Saves: 32

Player most likely to win MVP: Mookie Betts

Player most likely to win Cy Young: Chris Sale

Alright, that will do it for me. Opening Day is tomorrow, get PUMPED!